Valley Overseas: The Costs of Studying Abroad

Welcome to Valley Overseas. We’ll hear from students exploring new lands full of strange customs, seemingly impenetrable language barriers, and Euro-trash. They’ll dish out the good, bad and the ugly of living in a home-stay, and the tales of discount airlines. From mixed-up vocab to drool-worthy people in fantastic fashions, let us show you the experiences of a lifetime.

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The costs of studying abroad are adding up quickly. After a 16-hour journey from Philadelphia, I have finally arrived in Florence. And with that comes a hefty price on pizza, pasta, wine and even water.

As many of us know, the exchange rate is not the best. Currently, one U.S. dollar is equivalent to 0.73 Euro. I’m trying to wipe that fun fact away from my head and enjoy studying abroad to the fullest – even if it costs me €30 for dinner.

How do they get you, you may ask? There are plenty of deals; pizza and a drink for €10 sounds good – trust me, it is here. But that’s if you want to go to a tourist destination – your choice.

I’ve only been here for two days and I already have a list of charges that you’d never imagine in the States.


Yes, water. Although tap water is perfectly clean in Italy, restaurants do not serve it. If you want water, you pay around €7.50– approximately $10.22 in the U.S. Granted, it’s a pretty good size bottle that will serve around three people. I have six roommates, so when we have dinner we usually order three bottles, costing us about $30.60 for the table. That’s the price of dinner for two in downtown State College!


Imagine sitting at your local Italian restaurant and the waiter brings you bread. Same thing happens in Italy, but the waiter forgets one minor detail – you pay for it. Pretty surprising, no?

Plastic bags

Nothing outrageous, D.C. does it as well! Italy also charges for bags in grocery stores. Although not such a hefty price, keep in mind the amount of bags you get each time you go to the grocery store, and then multiply it by the amount of times you go to the market each month. Luckily for me, I was warned about this ahead of time and brought a Whole Foods bag in my suitcase. Any sturdy bag will do.

One thing you don’t get charged for:

People don’t tip in Italy, unless you really like the waiter. And by tipping at restaurants, I mean maybe one to three Euros. Nothing like the states, where you usually tip anywhere from 18 percent to 20 percent. Same goes with cabs. Thanks, Italy, for making one thing cheap!

All in all though, the food is worth the price.


Photos provided by Jennifer Weintraub


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